Raise your hand if you ever heard your parents say this oldie but goody:
“Do as I say, not as I do.”
While this phrase may often be said in jest, plenty of kids can tell stories of how their parent’s words and actions didn’t always seem to align. And how confusing that was to try to make sense of, when those same parents may have also said:
“Actions speak louder than words.”
Do you see how these phrases are in conflict? Especially to a young brain, which catalogues every word and action and seeks to find patterns in them.
If you want to encourage your child to follow their dreams, to take risks, and do what they LOVE as a career, then remembering how important it is to role model these ideals is vital.
The Power of Words: Sometimes We All Slip Up
As a parent, I understand how easy it can be to fall back on the “Do as I say, not as I do” phrase. We are all busy, often overwhelmed, and sometimes get caught up in the daily tasks of life. We may blurt out things like this in haste and forgot about how damaging it can be.
But remember, this phrase sends a direct message that says “I don’t have integrity in my words and actions”.
Raising kids who are finding their place in the world, and brimming with great ideas for creative expression (including entrepreneurial ventures,) comes with great responsibility. One of the greatest of those is role-modeling.
Kids look to their parents and loved ones to help guide them. And they do this not only by listening but by watching and noticing what may be imperceptible to others. If you don’t know by now, kids are highly perceptive. They can tell when things just don’t feel right. And they can see right through any kind of shady behavior.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Walk the Talk: Raising a Confident Kidpreneur
Like most things in life, balance is everything. Words, actions, beliefs, and goals should ideally be in alignment with one another. If one speaks more loudly, we continually show our children (and others) that our words hold more value that our actions, or vise versa. Instead, words AND actions are equally as valuable and as important in laying down a clear and healthy path to success.
For example, if you say “Honesty is the best policy” but then find yourself not being up front with your child, you aren’t role modeling honesty and openness by any means. Sure, you don’t have to share every last detail of your personal life with your kids. But role modeling honesty, especially with hard conversations, provides kids with the confidence to speak up for themselves and honor their emotions. In the business world, confidence in communication – and integrity of words – is a major indicator of success.
But healthy role-modeling isn’t limited to just a few key areas. Parents need to always be aware of the messages their own behaviors and actions are sending. Because, I promise you, your kid will interpret those messages quickly.
Parents need to role model everything from cooperation, resilience, and compassion to boundaries, character, and healthy habits.
For now, let’s talk about valuing different opinions comes into play with role-modeling. As a business owner, few things set off my inner “stay-away” alarm (yes, it’s an official term) more than a person who has no intention of valuing someone else’s opinion. Valuing other opinions doesn’t mean you you have to agree with them But it does mean actively listening, asking questions, and considering different perspectives.
By valuing other opinions, we show common courtesy and respect. We learn that there is more than one way to think, do, and be in this world. We are given insights and ideas that we may otherwise never have encountered. But don’t forget: when we value other’s opinions, they learn to value ours.
How do you role model this? Here are just a few ways you can be cognizant of valuing other opinions, especially when your kids are present:
- Pick your battles. Don’t vocally rant about a topic (politics, personal, business) without offering context for the opposing viewpoint. Side note: save those one-sided rants for your journal or your closest confidant. We all need to blow off steam from time to time.
- Question everything. Ask your child how THEY feel about an opinion or idea. Kids love sharing their thoughts and it makes them feel that you value their point of view and their unique personhood. Remember: conversation develops connection.
- Demonstrate active listening. Resist the urge to interrupt, to insert your own interpretation of someone’s story or sentiment, or to belittle their opinion. Listening is a silent and powerful way of saying “You matter.”
- Practice detachment. One of the most profound lessons in life is that of letting go of attachment to outcome. You can listen to a different opinion without wrapping yourself up in the idea of having to fight it or change someone’s mind. There is strength in letting go of the need to always be in control or to always be “right”. Balance this with demonstrating convictions in your beliefs and you’ll role model what it means to be a lifelong learner.
Role-Modeling Takes Work: It’s Worth It
The truth is, the importance of role-modeling doesn’t just stop with children. It helps with our own relationships in both a professional and personal sense. But positive influences in a child’s life lead to a greater chance of positive outcomes for their future. And they then have a much higher chance of role-modeling positive behavior for their own children.
In this way, role-modeling a gift that keeps on giving.
Keep in mind that none of us are perfect people or perfect parents. I like to say that we are “a work in progress.” It helps to remember that when you have rough days or realize that maybe you had a not-so-role-modely moment (like throwing an adult tantrum when Amazon delivered the wrong package). Dude, chill.
Give yourself grace and forgiveness – this role models that kids can allow themselves grace and forgiveness. Take a moment to breath and recenter – this teaches kids to find their own center and to de-stress. And don’t forget to follow up with your kids and let them know that you made a mistake and you’ll keep trying – this will role model commitment to self-growth.
We know that inspired kids can lead to a future of inspired leaders. This is why our Kidpreneur motto is “Young entrepreneurs with big ideas!” Being intentional in our words and actions is an investment that pays off in more ways than one.
Don’t be surprised when it also pays off for YOU.